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Attentive readers might already know the concept of "edge bundling" as described in a post almost 2 years ago, and more recently exemplified by the Eigenfactor Citation Patterns graph. Edge bundling is based on the principle of visually bundling adjacency edges together, analogous to the way electrical wires and network cables are merged into bundles along their joint paths, and then fanned out again at the end, in order to make an otherwise tangled web of wires and cables more manageable. When applied to the field of data visualization, this technique can be used in conjunction with several existing data mapping techniques to significantly reduce visual clutter.

Danny Holten and Prof. van Wijk have recently succeeded to merge the concept of edge bundling with force-directed network graphs, also known as node-link graphs, in their work "Force-Directed Edge Bundling for Graph Visualization". Here, edges have been modeled as flexible springs that are able to attract each other. The resulting network visualizations show significantly less clutter while making high-level edge patterns more visible.

Via Visual Complexity and blprnt.


First of all, thanks for posting this article. And now for a little nitpick: "...force-directed network graphs, also known as node-link graphs..." -> a node-link layout is a visualization technique that can be used to depict a graph, whereas force-directed placement is just one way of positioning graph nodes within a node-link layout (albeit a very popular one) :-).

Wed 17 Jun 2009 at 9:51 AM

Thnkx for the nitpick, and congratulations with the great work, Danny.

Wed 17 Jun 2009 at 10:32 AM

It's a great article, but in the end it doesn't comment on how to judge between the different visualization algorithms. I personally prefer their FDEM, but why is that?


Tue 14 Jul 2009 at 7:57 PM

Gephi's graph visualization software aims to implement this algorithm during Google Summer of Code this year. Looking for interested students, see the proposal: http://wiki.gephi.org/index.php/Google_Summer_Of_Code_2010#Force-Directed_Edge_Bundling

Sat 20 Mar 2010 at 1:33 AM
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